crucifixion

The Cross is Revelation and Salvation

The way Christ saved us from the curse of the law was “by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). So too, the way Christ freed us from the condemnation of sin and enabled us to “become the righteousness of God” was by becoming sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Getting this point is crucial to understanding my argument in Crucifixion of the Warrior God and the forthcoming Cross Vision (Due out August 15). What is more, since the curse of the law includes enslavement to “the elemental spiritual forces of this world” (Col. 2:20), we may add that the way Christ freed us from the fallen powers was by voluntarily identifying with our enslavement to the powers. This self-sacrificial act “canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us,” for by this means God “disarmed the powers and authorities” and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them on the cross” (Col. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 2:8; 1 Jn.3:8).

God reveals the perfect love that God eternally is as Father, Son, and Spirit by humbly condescending in his relationship with us. God’s love was most definitively revealed in his greatest condescension, which occurred on Calvary when God stooped to become what is antithetical to himself—viz. our sin and our curse. God’s triune unity was most perfectly revealed when Jesus, out of love for humankind, experienced God-forsakenness on the cross, for God’s unity is other-oriented love, and for the Son of God to experience God-forsakenness on behalf of fallen humanity is its supreme expression. We could sum up this point by saying that the greatest act of God’s condescension, and therefore the act that constitutes his fullest self-revelation, took place when God humbly and self-sacrificially entered into self-negation.

Combining this point about the revelation of God’s love with the opening paragraph on how Jesus saved us, we can see that the loving self-negation that was God’s supreme self-revelation was also the means by which God saved us from the curse of the law and rescued us from the oppression of Satan and the fallen powers. This is no coincidence, for revelation and salvation are inextricably bound up with one another. God saves us by revealing his true self to us, and he reveals his true self to us by saving us. Both are accomplished by God stooping to take on the “strange” and ‘alien” semblance of a God forsaken, law-cursed, criminal on Calvary. In other words, God’s supreme revelation, as well as our salvation, both take place by means of God’s loving self-negation.

This correlation between revelation and salvation should not surprise us, for going back to the garden when humanity first fell, our alienation from God and bondage to Satan has been most fundamentally rooted in the false picture of God the serpent tempted us with (Gen. 3). We are alienated from God primarily because we are deceived about God’s perfect character and thus cannot trust him. This is why it is no coincidence that the one who finally reveals what God is really like is also the one who saves us from our bondage to the powers. The revealed “Word” is the” Savior,” and he’s the one precisely because he’s the other, and both roles culminated when God experiences other-oriented self-negation, becoming our sin, our curse and our bondage on Calvary.

Photo credit: decafinata via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

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